Dear Philadelphia Flyers fans,
The hype for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is palpable. Rumors are swirling and the Flyers have picks in each of the first three rounds. On top of that, the Flyers have a strong young core of current NHLers and a new General Manager who has ‘talked the talk’ about drafting and developing players. These factors have combined to make the lead up to this draft one of the most exciting and tense times to be a Flyers fan.
The problem with this is that it has likely created unrealistic expectations. Therefore, my goal is to keep things in perspective.
First of all, there are no quick fixes to big problems. Even if the Flyers land a top pairing defenseman tonight in a trade, there are still a few holes in the roster. There is more than one issue with this team (even though the future looks very bright) and the Flyers just do not have the assets to fix them all.
Second of all, this draft class is not like the 2013 draft class. Immediately following the 2013 draft, picks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 16 appeared in the NHL. This class does not have anyone like that. The Flyers select 17th. Unlike Justin Williams or Sean Couturier, this years draft choice may take more time to develop (like Claude Giroux or Scott Laughton). Just because the pick may not look like a slam dunk tonight, that does not make it a bad pick.
Let’s revisit the first round last year. The Flyers were universally criticized for selecting Sam Morin with the 11th pick. However, a year later, Morin looks to be a solid defensive prospect. He impressed the Flyers brass and fans during a few preseason games last year and looks to have quite a few tools. Will Nikita Zadorov, Josh Morrissey, or Ryan Pulock end up being better than Morin? Possibly. But right now, that Morin pick does not look like a reach at number 11.
Finally, the Flyers will pick who they think is the best player available, not who you or I think is the best player available. Everyone has one or two pet prospects. We read the scouting reports, watch the highlights, and read every positive article we can about the guy(s).
I’ll be honest. I love Brendan Perlini, Julius Honka, and Nikolay Goldobin. They are my guys. I believe they all have great skill sets that will translate to the NHL. However, the Flyers may be leaning toward someone like Alex Tuch or Jared McCann. In my opinion, Tuch is only a highly sought after prospect because of his size and McCann is the prototypical “safe” pick.
But if the Flyers do select Tuch or McCann, or any number of players who I have not researched, that does not automatically mean that the Flyers have a terrible scouting department. We all, myself included, need to keep in mind that these scouts have watched these players much more than we have and know the players better than we ever will.
Go back with me to 2012. In the first round we selected Scott Laughton, who was immediately compared to Max Talbot by many fans. In the second round the Flyers took a giant goalie named Anthony Stolarz who would take at least half a decade to even be on an NHL radar (and that’s if all went well). Then they wasted their third round pick on some scrawny defenseman named Shayne Gostisbehere, what has he ever done. Then they took another tiny player in the fourth round, Taylor Leier.
Well, only two years later all of those players have shown surprising promise and each one looks on track to eventually have an NHL career. Criticizing a draft pick immediately after the pick happens is virtually pointless.
So what is the point of this letter?
Let’s be patient with whoever the Flyers select. Let’s be humble in our assessment of the players talent. And let’s let Hextall assemble his team before we label him as the ‘same old, same old’ Flyers GM.